The Power of Done: Executive Summary
How Business Benefits From the 21st Century Productivity Revolution
By Brent Frei and Mark Mader
Productivity growth – doing more work faster – is the lifeblood of a nation’s economy. And for nearly a century, the United States has benefited from its employees’ ever increasing and ever efficient labor output.
Indeed, U.S. productivity growth steadily expanded by about 2 percent a year between 1920 and 1995, enough to double our standard of living every 35 years. Then the Internet arrived, and annual productivity growth shot up to nearly 3 percent between 2000 and 2004.
Productivity growth has slowed since 2004, and nobody is quite sure why. One of the challenges is how to increase productivity in non-automated jobs where knowledge workers have to collaborate and use their judgment and expertise.
Unfortunately, productivity-enhancing technology – which has helped streamline supply chains, automate financial services and make the manufacturing sector more flexible – may not be helping here.
The average company in America now spends between $5,000 and $10,000 per knowledge worker on hardware and software designed to boost productivity. But this technology actually seems to be making us less productive.
Consider the following:
The key, then, is how to counter the discontinuity and distraction in the workplace – the surge of unproductive connectivity – so that constructive and efficient collaboration can take hold. In short, the big question is: How do we get cadres of knowledge workers to productively interact?
Since brainstorming accounts for 5 percent of the work process and getting things done represents the remaining 95 percent, The Power of Done makes the case that companies should deploy next-generation productivity technology that tracks specific work performance – tasks, assignments, responsibilities, milestones, goals and deadlines – in real-time. If this information is transparent and accessible 24 X 7 to all team members or project participants, then accountability will be clearly established. And, in the end, it’s accountability that drives results and profits in a collaborative organization.
Technology that helps executives, entrepreneurs and managers understand which employees are doing what – and how well they’re doing it – offers a number of core top- and bottom-line benefits:
Looking beyond today, The Power of Done helps explain the next stage of the 21st century’s technology-enabled productivity revolution.
In addition to discussing real-time tracking of work inside a single organization, the book describes a more efficient and productive future in which each company’s network of suppliers and service providers also monitors its tasks, assignments, ownership and deadlines.
Finally, The Power of Done explains why the much-publicized notion of individual productivity has no real place in the dynamic and collaborative enterprise work environment of the 21st century. In fact, the book’s authors believe there should be an Individual Productivity Tax (IPT) on those who slow an organization down with inefficiencies. The ultimate metric, on the other hand, should be Net Team Productivity (NTP), which would measure the collective effectiveness of multiple people performing multiple interactions in the workplace.
In the end, next-generation productivity-enhancing technology must scale on the Internet so that any company anywhere in the world can log on to a transparent, real-time Global Work Exchange that will show millions of tasks-in-progress and where they and their owners stand at any particular moment.
Digital breakthroughs like this will be necessary to keep the world’s high-margin knowledge-job sector vibrant and global productivity growth strong. It’s unfortunate, but without serious and sweeping technological innovation, a viral epidemic of inefficiency will course through companies everywhere and the overall standard of living will decline for millions of people.